EXERCISE AND BRAIN HEALTH
Research has shown that people who frequently carry out aerobic physical activities usually score greater in neuropsychological function and psychiatric tests for cognitive performance which are employed in measuring certain cognitive abilities like attention control, cognitive flexibility, declarative and spatial memory, and speed of information processing. Over the years, exercise has been seen as a potent antidepressant and euphoriant (which brings
about the infamous “runner’s high”); as a result, consistent exercise produces general improvements in mood and self-esteem and so helps maintain the brain in good health.
Consistent mild-moderate intense aerobic exercise ameliorates the signs and symptoms associated with a variety of disorders of the central nervous system and may be employed as an added management plan for these impairments. Becoming more physical has also been linked with a decreased tendency of developing neurodegenerative abnormalities. Regular exercise has also been proposed as an additional therapeutically proved measure for patients with brain cancers.
The aim of this article is to highlight and discuss the relevance of physical exercise in the health of the human brain. This report focuses more on the role exercise plays in maintaining human mental and for there to be a successful and more accurate theory; results from animal models have been extrapolated where necessary for better understanding.
More Blood, More Brain Life:
Physical exercise helps the brain by increasing perfusion rate to the brain which is basically the supply of blood to the brain cells; this, in turn, increases the delivery of oxygen, glucose among other nutrients to the brain while at the same time acting as a vehicle for waste removal. Work out activities which bring about increase in heart rate such as cycling or running helps in facilitating blood circulation, pumping more blood and hence more oxygen and other vital nutrients like glucose to the brain. A study carried out by Franklin Institute has it that physical activities can bring about more blood to the brain by stimulating the release of vasculo-endothelial growth factors which stimulate the growth of cerebral blood vessels forming channels for increased blood supply . The synaptogenic process of the brain is also triggered by physical exercise by preserving the number of acetylcholine receptors found at the junction of muscle and nerve.
The relationship between Exercise and Mood:
The mood enhancing effects of physical activities and exercise are not far-fetched, physical activities of moderate intensity triggers the production and release of serotonin, which is a critical neurotransmitter found in the brain and is associated with good health and mental well- being. Exercise has been cited in numerous studies as a natural antidepressant and this is by virtue of an increase in the amount of serotonin neurotransmitter in the central nervous system during exercise and therefore relieving the mind from anxiety and stress. Aerobic exercise and strength training work to improve our mood, this was made known in a 4-months-long study carried out at Duke University wherein 160 people were divided into three categories: exercise and medication, medication, and exercise. Those in the category of exercise worked out three times a week for a period of half an hour. The outcomes gotten from the end of the study indicated that exercise on its own was just as efficient as either the medication or the medication-exercise combined in remedying the effects of depression and anxiety.
Improved Learning and Memory:
It is no news that physical activities of mild-moderate intensity, for example, brief walking for like 30 minutes, can boost memory functions, learning and the ability for abstract reasoning. It is not yet fully understood how this phenomenon works but empirical trials and studies have
revealed that enhanced supply of oxygen and nutrients to the brain are thought to be primary factors. Cognitive exercise helps the brain function better. Just like any other skills acquired, the bottom line here is that the more mental challenges you put your brain through, the better the brain becomes. Cognitive enhancing challenges like crossword puzzles and similar word games, Sudoku, Rubik’s™ cube, mathematics, and other games of skill and strategy all help boost cognitive performance and mental fitness. Console gaming also has been shown to improve eye-hand coordination in elderly individuals.
Engaging I mild-moderately intense physical activities and exercises may help in the delay and prevention of cognitive abilities associated with age and other systemic illnesses. Sedentary individuals or people who don’t take any form of physical exercise are more likely to develop debilitating diseases such as Alzheimer’s than active people in the ratio of 3 is to 1. Mental exercises such as making use of the non-dominant hand frequently using for everyday tasks and acquiring new skills that involve mental efforts can help the brain improve its neural connections and also make new ones where necessary.
The bottom line:
Symptoms of depression and memory problems are significant risk factors for dementia; it is, however, unfortunate because these are normal physiological conditions that present with senility. The good news is that physical exercise as we have seen from several clinical trials cited above can reduce depressive symptoms and improve cognitive function in older people.
Additionally, the merits of exercise on physical and mental well-being have been demonstrated in people with dementia. Although evidence of such non-pharmacological interventions is mounting and ever increasing in significance, no studies have examined whether physical
exercise exerts a positive impact on the brain and mental health (e.g., depressive symptoms) in non-demented older adults at high risk of cognitive impairment and depression. Therefore, I propose a randomized controlled trial to assess the effectiveness and potency of physical exercise in improving brain and mental health in community-dwelling older adults with memory problems and depressive symptoms.